Senate Tributes - "T", "U", "V"

THOMAS M. C. TAYLOR (1904-1983)

With the death of Thomas M. C. Taylor in Victoria on August 6, 1983, the Province lost one of its most distinguished former U.B.C. graduates and colleagues, and a major contributor to botanical education.

Born in Pretoria, South Africa, in 1904, Dr. Taylor emigrated to Canada in 1911 and settled with his family in Kelowna, where he obtained his early schooling. In 1919 at the age of 15 he entered the Royal Naval College of Canada, Esquimalt, graduating from that school in 1922. He then began his academic career at U.B.C., where he was awarded the B.A. with Honours in Botany in 1926. He completed the M.S. at the University of Wisconsin in 1927 and the Ph.D. at the University of Toronto in 1930. He was a member of the academic staff of the Department of Botany at the University of Toronto from 1932 to 1945, leaving there to join the faculty of the Department of Botany at U.B.C. as Professor in 1946. He served as Head of the Department of Botany at U.B.C. from 1954 to 1965, and resigned to an early retirement in 1968. Dr. Taylor was a member of Senate from 1949 to 1954 and from 1963 to 1966.

During the period 1942 - 1945 Dr. Taylor served the Department of National Defence in both the Royal Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Navy, ending his military service as Cdr. (S.B.) R.C.N.V.R.

During his lifetime, he travelled extensively in Europe and about the Pacific and greatly expanded his botanical knowledge of the vascular plants, with special emphasis on the ferns. He contributed significantly to the British Columbia Provincial Museum series of handbooks on the vascular plants of British Columbia. This affiliation with the Provincial Museum continued after his retirement to Vancouver Island until shortly before his death and yielded additional significant published contributions to an understanding of the vascular plants of British Columbia.

To his surviving family the Senate expresses its deepest sympathy.


With deep sorrow and regret the Senate records its sense of loss in the death on January 16, 1957, of Dr. Otis Johnson Todd, Professor Emeritus of Classics, at the age of 73. A graduate of Harvard, (A.B. Summa cum laude, 1906., with Highest Final Honours in Classics, Ph.D. in Classics, 1914), for 34 years he devoted his great talents as Scholar, Teacher and Administrator, to the University of British Columbia.

He was first appointed to U.B.C. as Assistant Professor of Classics in 1918. Two years later he became Associate Professor; in 1922 he was made Professor of Greek, and in 1932, Professor of Classics. He succeeded Dr. Lemuel Robertson as Head of the Department in 1941, and he continued his work as teacher for three years after his retirement in 1949.

He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa (1905), The American Philological Association, and the Classical Association of the Pacific States, Northern Section, of which he was President, 1939-40. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1942.

He read widely and deeply in the literature of Greece and Rome, a fact to which his numerous articles in classical journals bear ample evidence. In 1922 was published, in the Loeb Classical Library, his edition and translation of Xenophon's 'Banquet' and Socrates' 'Defence to the Jury'.

While a student at Harvard he formed a close acquaintance with the eminent Greek Scholar., John Williams White, with whom he began work on an Index to Aristophanes. Twenty years later, in 1932, Dr. Todd completed this work which was published in that year by the Harvard Press.

His University interests and activities always extended beyond the class room and his own professional field of study. To the Classics Club, he and Mrs. Todd gave open-hearted hospitality in their home. He served as a member of the Senate from 1941 to 1948 and of numerous University Committees. As Secretary of the Extension Committee, he had much to do with formulating and carrying out U.B.C. policy in the period before an Extension Department came into existence. For many years, also, he rendered outstanding service as a member of the Ceremonies Committee and of the Board of Examiners.

In sports, there are probably few University teachers in Canada, other than Physical Educationists, who have contributed more to the development of amateur games, inside and outside the University, whether as participant, Executive Counsellor, or Spectator. Until quite recently he continued to play Tennis and Badminton. He served on the U.B.C. Athletic Awards Committee and was an Honorary Member of the Big Block Club. His interest centred in Association Football, in which game five of his six sons played for the U.B.C. Thunderbirds, and a grandson won his Big Block last year. His contribution to Football was recognized by his election, in 1947 and again in 1948, as President, Dominion of Canada Football Association.


Dr. George Hugh Neil Towers served Senate as a Representative of the Faculty of Science from 1966 to 1969.

Dr. Towers was born in Bombay, India and was educated in Burma where his early interest in the natural world began. He went on to receive his B.Sc. and M.Sc. from McGill University and his Ph.D. in 1954 from Cornell University. Following academic appointments at McGill and the NRC in Halifax, Dr. Towers came to UBC where he served at the Head of the Department of Botany from1964 to 1971. From 1971 to retirement as Professor Emeritus in Botany in 1989, Dr. Towers devoted his energies to research and teaching at UBC. Dr. Towers was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, receiving the Flavelle Medal in 1986. Most recently, in 2001, Dr. Towers was recognized by ISI as one of UBC's most highly cited scientists with more than 425 papers and book chapters in his areas of research, Botany and Phytochemistry.


The members of the Senate of the University of British Columbia wish to express their deep regret at the passing of Dr. H. R. Trumpour. They remember with respect and affection his cheerful personality, his willing co-operation, and his generous tolerance during the period he served as Principal of the Anglican Theological College. His years of service to the University and to his profession merit the grateful memory which the Senate now records.


John Moncrief Turnbull was born in Montreal in 1877. He graduated from McGill University in 1897 and soon after come to British Columbia to work as a Mining Engineer. In 1915 he was asked by President F.F. Wesbrook, to advise the University on the establishment of a mining education program.

He was offered the post of Head of the Mining Department and in accepting became the second appointment to the University faculty. From that date until 1945 when he retired, Professor Turnbull headed the Department of Mining and Metallurgy in the Faculty of Applied Science. He was a member of Senate for 16 years, the first 12 of which were from 1915 to 1927.

Professor Turnbull was active in his emeritus years, frequently coming to campus to give special lectures. His last visit was in 1979, when at the age of 101 he lectured on the mining industry in British Columbia at the turn of the century.

With the passing of Professor Turnbull on January 2, 1982, the University has lost the last of its original faculty members, the Canadian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy its oldest member, the Association of Professional Engineers of British Columbia its registrant number five.

As a distinguished Canadian who played a major role in developing the mining industry of British Columbia, who was responsible for guiding the education of Mining and Metallurgy students for a whole generation, Professor Turnbull will be long remembered as an outstanding figure in the history of the Province and the University.

Professor Turnbull was predeceased by his wife Gladys and is survived by three sons, six grandchildren and twenty great grandchildren.

LEONID VALG (1924-1987)

Leonid Valg was born in Tallin, Estonia, in 1924, where he received his early education. In 1945, he enrolled at the NKI Institute in Stockholm, where, in 1948, he was awarded the Diploma as a Laboratory Technician in Pulp and Paper.

After gaining experience in the forest industry in Sweden, Leo Valg emigrated to British Columbia where he was employed by the Powell River Company and Columbia Cellulose of Prince Rupert.

In 1957, Mr. Valg graduated from The University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Science in Forestry. Subsequently, he earned his Masters Degree in 1962. During the final months of his graduate program, Leo Valg was appointed as an Instructor in the Faculty and was later promoted to professorial rank in 1963.

In 1974 he was named Assistant Dean, where his duties included Admissions and Curriculum. He served on the Senate from 1978 to 1981.

In all his years at this university Leo Valg's full and continuing commitment was to the students for whom he was responsible. He was respected by all who knew him for his kindness, his conscientious devotion to the Faculty, and for his warm personality. He was also a very cultured man who shared his talents and his great love of music with his wide community of friends.

Leo Valg gave of his time generously and without reservation. He will be long remembered by his colleagues and by countless numbers of students, past and present, from the Faculty he served so well, as a dedicated teacher, friend and counsellor for over twenty five years.

To his surviving family the Senate of The University of British Columbia extends its deepest sympathy.


B.A. (UBC), M.A. (UBC), Ph.D. (Univ. of Cal., Berkeley), D.Sc. Honoris Causa (UBC)
Dean Emeritus

George Michael Volkoff was born in Moscow, Russia on February 23, 1914 and died in the Purdy pavilion at UBC on April 24, 2000, after a lengthy illness. He had a strong association with the University of British Columbia for 70 years and served on the UBC Senate 1950-54, 1961-63, and 1969-79. George arrived in Canada with his family in 1924 as an eleven-year-old. He completed elementary school in Vancouver and then followed his family to Harbin, Manchuria where he completed his secondary school. He entered UBC in 1930 as a sixteen year old and graduated in 1934, winning the Governor General's medal as head of the graduating class.

After obtaining his master's degree at UBC in 1936, George went to Berkeley to work with Robert Oppenheimer. His Ph.D. work, published in 1939, became very famous and was instrumental in Volkoff becoming and Officer of the Order of Canada 55 years later. This work concerned the predictions of the properties of collapsed stars, resulting from supernova explosions: it showed that such massive objects were essentially made entirely of neutrons and had densities of a million billion times that of water. This paper at first lay neglected until, in the middle 1960's, pulsars were discovered and identified as neutron stars of just the kind that Oppenheimer and Volkoff had predicted. Volkoff was appointed as Assistant Professor in the UBC Physics Department in 1940. During 1943-46 he was on leave to the nascent Canadian atomic energy project. He was responsible for the lattice calculations for the first large reactor in Canada, the NRX reactor at Chalk River, Ontario, completed in 1946. For this wartime work Volkoff was awarded a D.Sc. (Honoris Causa) by UBC in 1945 (at age 31, perhaps the youngest recipient of such a degree from UBC) and the M.B.E. in 1946.

On returning to UBC in 1946 Volkoff embarked on research in the new field of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and supervised the very first student, Tom Collins, to receive a UBC Ph.D. He continued an excellent teaching career at UBC and rendered great service to the University as Physics Department Head (1961-71) and Dean of Science (1971-79) and gave his outstanding judgement to countless other UBC bodies. He also served on many national and international committees in the service of science. George Volkoff was known around the world for his early scientific brilliance, his intelligence, his fairness and his interest in people and intellectual affairs. He gave lifelong service to UBC and brought the University great distinction.

Written by Dr. Erich Vogt.

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